2019.07.08 11:00

Party in trial for 'corruption' to be in charge of MoD; Seimas security committee raises concern

The decision to put the Order and Justice party, standing trial in a corruption case, in charge of the Defense Ministry in Lithuania is controversial, said Vytautas Bakas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense (NSGK).

"The question is what the party will do with this position [...] it seems controversial. As far as I understand from the comments, the party-affiliation decisions have not been made yet. For example, the minister does not necessarily have to be a party member," Bakas told BNS on Friday.

"How can a party having problems with law enforcement and standing trial ensure the transparency of the national defense system and not to discredit it?"

According to Bakas, a "neutral" politician, not a party member, could be proposed for the position. "The key task is to ensure transparency," the NSGK said.

The Order and Justice party said earlier it plans to nominate an incumbent MP for minister of defence, but the coalition parties' leaders did not disclose the name.

A Lithuanian court is now hearing a political corruption case involving the Order and Justice party which is one of the defendants as a legal person. The party is suspected of having received over 350,000 euros from bribes and other illegally embezzled assets and used the money for its promotion.

The party is facing a fine of 1.9 million euros, prosecutors say.

Representatives of the Order and Justice party dismiss all accusations.